Overtime winner keeps Knights unbeaten at Yurcak
Moving up from his central defending role to the midfield for the first time this season, Bryant Knibbs just needed one chance.
And in the second overtime, his chance came.
The junior from Pine Bush, N.Y., corralled a long pass from defender Dragan Naumoski and sent a howitzer into the back of the net. The strike propelled the Rutgers men's soccer team to a 2-1 overtime victory over Hartford on Sunday and added another victory to the team's now four-game unbeaten streak.
"Somebody had to step up, so I figured I'd just try my luck and put it on goal," said Knibbs, whose first goal of his collegiate career sent all of the 843 Scarlet supporters at Yurcak Field into a frenzy. "Overtime is kind of our game. I feel like we can beat anybody in overtime when we get there."
The win was anything but pretty for the Scarlet Knights (3-1-1), who fell behind, 1-0, in the first half and had a tough time penetrating the Hawks' (2-4) defense. Head coach Dan Donigan made numerous changes during the intermission, including moving Knibbs to the midfield and freshman Bonny Londono to the back line.
"To be honest with you, I think we were god awful in the first half. I think it was 45 minutes of the worst soccer we have played," said Donigan. "We made a whole bunch of adjustments that I don't remember them all.
"Knibbsie is a gamer. That kid can be a special player. He showed it at the end with a great finish. We were trying to get our frontrunners to do that all game and it took our center back."
The first goal of the game came on a Hartford corner in the 11th minute, when Jorge Rodriguez's cross found the head of Sean McKinney and soared into the back of the net. The tally is the first goal conceded by junior goalkeeper Adam Klink since taking over the starting role three games ago.
The Knights pulled even in the 50th minute, when junior Ibrahim Kamara broke free on goal and Hartford goalkeeper Jordan Bar came out to challenge Kamara. Bar successfully kicked the ball away from Kamara, but to his horror, it wound up on the foot of fellow junior forward Sam Archer.
With nothing but 40 yards separating him and a wide-open net, the Queens native stayed calm, cool and collected, and deposited the ball into the goal to pull Rutgers even.
"In my head I was like, ‘Just keep it on target,'" Archer said. "I didn't want to go for power or anything. I just wanted to keep it on target and place it."
Against a team whose defense played in a trap, attempting to catch the Knights offsides, Rutgers frontrunners had little space to work with and attack.
"It is pretty frustrating," said Archer, whose team was called offsides seven times. "It is pretty frustrating."
The goal was Archer's second in as many games, with his 17th minute strike Friday against Long Island serving as the game winner in a 2-0 victory.
The win over the Blackbirds (2-3) gave the Knights' their second-straight shutout victory. Klink made four saves in net, with the Rutgers' defenders limiting LIU to only one corner kick.
"I feel like we have some great chemistry and we really are playing like a team this year," said senior defender Chris Edwards, who injured his hamstring against the Blackbirds and sat out against Hartford. "[Klink] has stepped up big time for us. He's been playing really well. We are very happy with Adam."
No matter how poorly the team may have played against Hartford, the fact remains unchanged: The Knights are riding a three-game win streak into Big East play.
Rutgers concludes its five-game homestand Friday night in the Big East opener against Marquette.